Category Archives: chicago

Disneyland Experiences

***I’ve intended to blog about this for years. If I ever write a book, you can bet some items I am about to touch on will play a significant part of my story. ***

When I was a little girl I had a reoccurring dream. Actually, I had a few. One involved camping in pueblos with my family when a buffalo stampede headed in our direction. Even though I could never get packed up and in the car on time, no one was ever injured or killed because I woke myself up before the buffalo arrived.

But I digress. This particular reoccurring dream was really more of a reoccurring motif. The specific details always varied, but the setting and outcome were completely consistent. In one fashion or another I was about to go to Disneyland. Tickets in hand, or perhaps in line purchasing tickets. It always ended the same. I woke up right before entering the park. Perhaps I woke up because I had to use the bathroom, or maybe my alarm went off.

But every. single. time.

I woke up. No Disneyland.

I’m in no way superstitious, except for maybe with sports. (Don’t call it a perfect game. It’s x number up, x number down until it’s 27 up, 27 down. Then feel free to call it what it is, perfect.)

I don’t think my dreams carry prophetic power. Expect for maybe that one time I dreamed an airplane was falling out of the sky, toward me, because it’s engines fell off. While the dream was intense and extremely scary, it didn’t strike me as unsual because it was only a few days after 9/11. But then this happened the day after my birthday that year : “The plane’s two engines also separated from the aircraft before it hit the ground.” (I DON’T think my dreams are prophetic. This was just a terrifying coincidence.)

Anyway – back to my Disneyland dreams.  The fact that I almost got to Disneyland but never got through the gates, that gut check of disappointment has stayed with me. When it comes to real life, I’ve had some major disappointments hit me pretty hard. A few of them, if I’m honest, rung up in my mind as “Disneyland experiences” when I was in the middle of them.

What I mean by that is as I was walking forward into a hopeful experience, something settled into my gut and my mind as “I don’t think this is really going to happen. I think this is surreal. I think this is a Disneyland experience.” and then sure enough, whatever it was fell through and didn’t happen.

A few of my more memorable Disneyland experiences are as follows:

*The time I expected to be in concert choir in 12th grade. It was something I worked for since 7th grade and I was hopeful, but something rang a little sour in my mind. It was something I wanted so bad, I thought it would not really happen. Sadly – my audition was not my best and I didn’t make it.

*I applied to Moody Bible Institute (twice).  Both times, my grades, my life experiences, my ability to write and communicate – all pointed to me be accepted no questions asked. And yet, in my mind, I had a hard time actually picturing myself in Chicago, going to college. Shocking everyone – except maybe me? – I was not accepted (twice).

*Going to China to teach English. I was on a team in college that was headed to China to teach English. We prepared all year. I was skeptical that little Debra would actually get to travel to over an ocean to China. When we had our printed tickets in had, I started to give into the idea that it was really happening. Then five days before we were to leave, the trip was cancelled (thanks SARS).

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been wrong. I’ve had the “Disneyland experience” gut feeling and the expected experience came to pass. I didn’t really believe I was going to Wheaton for graduate school until we were in the car driving there. I’m thankful to have been wrong. (Although, I was partly right – Mark Noll, the professor I wanted to learn from the most and the reason I applied to Wheaton, left Wheaton after 27 years. He took a position at Notre Dame. This took placy during the one year between my acceptance and attendance when I deferred so I could pay off my car before school. No Mark Noll. “Disneyland Experience” strikes again.)

And as odd as it may sound to say, I’m thankful I was right sometimes too.

Maybe this is why some think I’m pessimistic. I considered myself a realist. I don’t want to get my emotions involved on the front end of things too early. If something seems to good to be true, it often is. It’s ok that these “Disneyland experiences” fell through.

Some of my biggest disappointments are paramount in shaping me into the person I am today. If I went to Moody, I missed out on Edmonton & NABC/Taylor. And come on, who doesn’t want to have a school in their past that had two names, was so small it’s now closed, and played sports in the city league. 😉  I kid! I wouldn’t trade the friendships and growth as an intellectual Christian for the world. I LOVED my time in the True North. And as a bonus, I attended school in Chicago later anyway.

Honestly, because I know things can go terrible wrong, not as hoped and dreamed, but still be ok – if not better – in the long run, it helps me continue to have a concrete trust that God is good. That God loves me. That God loves my family. That his plans are better than I could imagine. Better than I can dream.

My son’s memory verse right now for church is Psalms 18:30. God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true.

Even if that means my ticket to Disneyland just got sucked up into a tornado. Who knows, it could. I do live in Tornado Alley after all.


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Filed under baseball, canada, chicago, theology

Growing up

A few years after my open heart surgery, my family moved from Chicagoland to the Pacific Northwest. I was 6 and a half when we moved.


Around 5 or 6 years old in Chicago. I think this is a sweet, rare photo of me in a dress.



(L) My second year of 1st grade. (Yes, I took it twice. That’s what happen when you move and are really shy.) and (R) kindergarten. Please notice the amazing cutting work on these pictures. Done by yours truly, ages 5 & 7. I’m better at this now.

As I mentioned in my last post, there is no cure for CHD. I spent many days going to cardiology appointments. For a while, it was once a year, then twice a year. There was a period of time I got to go only once every two years, which was short lived as I hit puberty and my cardiologist knew I needed to be monitored more often.


On a family vacation. This is a picture of my brothers and me. Unlike the photo above of me in a dress, this is much closer to my “normal” as a kid. And check out that mullet!

My “normal” has always been a little off from actual “normal.” For instance, I’ve always had restrictions on what sports I may participate in. When I was in 5th grade, I participated in track, only to be chastised by my cardiologist. “Don’t you know you aren’t supposed to run track?!? Don’t you hear the new stories of kids dropping dead on the running track!?!” Oops! (If you are wondering, I got the green light to play soft ball, and be in a bowling league.)

Because of these physical limitations, I was not allowed to participate in P.E.. That awkward, learn to shower at school with classmates situation – I never lived it. It also meant I got to take a ton of extra electives in High School. (Lots of Art!)


Piano recital. I took around 5 years of lessons. I played ok, but I was terrible at actually putting in time to practice. That dress! :-/



I have always loved reading. This was probably from my Jr. High years. Hanging out with our golden retriever.

Medically speaking, everything is always more complicated for me. In high school, when I needed to have my wisdom teeth removed, no one would touch me because I was such a risk. I had to have them out up at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

When I had a very unusual case of gall stones the summer before my senior year of college, I had to have extra tests just to make sure it was not being caused by my heart. Apparently my blood was breaking down faster than it was supposed to. This resulted in hard conversations about “What happens if they say I’m dying?” Thankfully, that was not the case and I was able to return to college and complete my degree.

As most of you likely know, more recently, my heart health made for some high risk pregnancies. (You can read more about that here.)

I’ve been blessed and am very fortunate to live what I call “bonus time.”  If you think about it, we are all in bonus time – I just happen to have tangible proof.

Thank you for reading my story. Come back soon to find out “What’s Next.”


Filed under cardiology, chicago, moving, seattle, sports

Good Bye Friend

Said good-bye to a friend of 9.5 years. I knew it was coming, but it’s still an adjustment.

My dear Jetta, seen here freshly washed, at my grandparents house in the middle of North Dakota.

My dear Jetta, seen here freshly washed, at my grandparents house in the middle of North Dakota.

I purchased my Jetta in August of 2004. It was 4 years old and such a huge, grown up moment in my life. In the handful of years of having a license, it was the car I ‘dreamed of’. I saved up my money, had a pretty big down payment (prior to my Dave Ramsey days) and worked hard for the next 2 and a half years to pay it off. I even deferred my move to Chicago for grad school so that I could finish paying and officially become the owner.

I only put 60,000 miles on it, but in that time, it took me from Washington State, to Chicago, to Dallas. It even pulled a uhaul on one of those trips. (Ha!)

It played an important role in one particular event concerning the “boy next door” who eventually became a pretty important person in my life (my husband).

It has several issues ranging from a CD player’s broken fuse that continued to drain the battery until removed; a self dimming rear-view mirror, that broke and leaked gunk all over; cup holders that had nifty, spring/size adjusting arms that were amazing – until the springs and arms broke (it never held cups sturdy, with out potential sloshing again).

There were a few bumps and bruises along the way, from the time I backed crooked out of the driveway and sideswiped my roommate’s car; the time I ran into our garage; the time I locked the keys in and my boss used some wood and a hammer to pry open the door; the time the bumper fell off, hanging within an inch or two off the ground and I didn’t know (I proceeded to drive at highway speeds for 20 miles); the time the belt broke and I lost all power steering in the middle of a busy road.

One time, it over heated and – now on my own in Texas – I had to find someone to look at it – figure out toeing and get it fixed.  The shop I ended up taking it to – wow… not in a good part of town. The tow truck got lost trying to take it there. Going to pick it up, one of my girlfriends from work drove me down and I’m pretty sure when I got out to go pay and pick it up – she was getting nervous that I might have been abducted or killed. 🙂 Rough part of town – but at least it was the middle of the day! And they gave me a great deal and did a terrific job fixing it.

Anyway – it was an adventure filled nine and a half years.  We all move on in life. Even with all of the issues, we were still able to trade it in for a decent 1,500 dollars toward our new “I’m officially an old grownup” minivan.  Got to stay practical right?

Good bye friend. I’m so glad we had almost 10 years together and I have two sets of plates (WA & TX) that I will hold on to – and remember you by.

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Filed under car, chicago, dallas, debt

Reverse the Curse

I’m a sports fan. Due to my health, I’ve never been much of an athlete – but ever since I was 14 and the 1995 Mariners pulled me in to a new world, I’ve been a sports fan.

Sometimes, this is awesome. As a teenager, all of a sudden, I had things I could talk about and really enjoy with my three brothers and dad, all of whom love sports.

Sometimes, this is not awesome.  Let me give you a quick summary of all the teams I’ve rooted for over the years:

*Seattle Mariners: In 1995, after beating the Yankees in a 5 game series (after being down 2-0) they couldn’t get past Cleveland. They lost Game 6 of the ALCS. To this day, have gotten to the ALCS one other time, but never made it to the World Series. (Even the year they won 116 games – tying the record for most wins in a season.)

*USA Hockey: In 2002, I was living in Canada for college. The Salt Lake City Olympics featured TWO gold metal hockey games (both Men’s & Women’s) where Canada beat the USA. It was miserable to watch with my Canadian friends.

*Edmonton Eskimos: I was still living in Edmonton Alberta in 2003.  The CFL team went to the Grey Cup. And Lost.

*Edmonton Oilers: 2006 – Since I went to school in Edmonton, I adopted the Oilers as my hockey team. They were the come from behind kids, only to get to the 7th game of the Stanley Cup finals, and lose.

*Seattle Seahawks: Lost the Superbowl in 2006

*Chicago Bears: They did win the Superbowl when I lived in Chicago, but I was only 5 years old and don’t remember the win.  In Grad School, it was 2007 and I lived in Chicago again. The Bears lost the Superbowl.

*Seattle Super Sonics: This one is so bad that the Sonics moved to OKC in 2008 and changed their name. I’ve been rooting against the Thunder ever since. (Maybe the one bright spot? I was forced to root for the Miami Heat to beat the Thunder in the finals. And the Heat won….Lesser of two evils.) I wrote off the NBA for a few years, until I was married to a Spurs fan.

*San Antonio Spurs: My adopted team, thanks to my husband, made it to the finals this year. As is the pattern of my life, they lost in the finals.

So there you go. And I’ll not even attempt to claim all the foibles of the Cubs as mine. They are my second favorite baseball team.  Since I was born in Chicago and have lived there a total of 8 years, the loveable losers have a special place in my heart as well.

All of that being said, I refuse to give up. I WILL cheer for my teams. And one year, one of them will WIN. I’m hoping this is the year. I’m banking on the curse being reversed. I’m ROOTING for the SEAHAWKS.  — And that’s all there is to it.

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Filed under baseball, basketball, canada, chicago, football, grad school, hockey, mariners, oilers, olympics, seahawks, seattle, sports

Wheaton Alumni

Are you on LinkedIn?

Even if you are leery of being an active online participant, shy away from Facebook – would never use Twitter, and only read blogs (but never comment) – You should check out LinkedIn.

It’s the “Professional Social Networking” site – set up to help you connect with friends, co-workers, employers, recruiters, and any other group or company that you might be able to help contribute to.

When I joined, I made sure to join the Wheaton Alumni group on LinkedIn.

Today, I went a step further and contacted several individuals (who clearly made it known they wanted to connect to other Wheaton Alumni).  It was very interesting seeing how diverse and spread out both in careers and geography.

Find me on LinkedIn – Although, I must warn you, unlike this blog, I tend to require LinkedIn connections to have some type of real world connection such as Wheaton or mutual friends.

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Filed under chicago

Harvey Dent for DA (or fun with ARGs)

Who is Harvey Dent? What is an ARG? Glad you asked those questions.

Harvey Dent recently ran for District Attorney for Gotham City. The Election was held this week and Mr. Dent won by a landslide! (you can see his Website Click here)

What you say? Gotham City is not a real place? I beg to differ. Check out these photos from the last time I was in Gotham.

A Gotham cab

Looks like they may be having some issues with Crime these days in Gotham. There were several SWAT trucks and police cars out the day I was there

Rumor has it that there is a man running around Gotham (quite possibly the owner of the truck in this photo) who dresses up like a clown. I am not 100% sure about that, but I guess this particular day must have been garbage day.

(you can also see my previous gotham posts here , here and here)

Why do I say all this? And are you still wondering what an ARG is? Well let me explain. ARG stands for Alternative Reality Game. In short it is a game that combines the web, viral marketing, puzzles and occasionally (as in the case of the Dark Knight) real live participatory events.

The idea is 1. to produce a viral media/marketing campaign for whatever product is being sold and 2. to give a fun activity, which often fills in the back-story of a movie or tv show, for the fans to get involved with. In this case, there have been online puzzles and scavenger hunts all to give Gotham a seemingly real feel. The “prizes” for events and puzzles are often a sneak peak at trailers or pictures before the rest of the world sees them. This particular ARG contains a police department, a bank, a couple of restaurants, The Gotham Times, and sites pertaining to the election just to name a few. Because I registered and voted on monday at the GothamElectionBoard, I now have a Gotham Address. Its all just a bit of fun.

The real thing that got me curious about ARGs is the Octagon Global Recruiting ad and website for LOST. Apparently there were two ARGs between season fleshing out some of the LOST story line that the show would never have time to cover. Again, it adds to the Myth, gives weight to the Epic (and helps uber-fans make it through the summer and fall until the show returns in January).

So its all in good fun. And let me give you a heads up. If you like Batman, and you like dominos pizza, you may just want to order the “gotham special” on Monday. Trust me, it will be worth it. (Just spreading some of the GothamCityPizzeria love that I learned while in my alternate universe today)


Filed under arg, chicago, movie

The Art

very briefly, here is small rundown of the Art Institute. I learned that I do not really care for Claude Monet. I also decided I really like Vincent van Gogh.

Here is my favorite painting of the day, Terrace and Observation Deck at the Moulin de Blute-Fin, Montmartre, 1887, Vincent van Gogh:

I also really liked this painting. It was HUGE! Something I found interesting about this painting is that the triangular building seems to be angled right at me no matter where I was standing looking at the painting.
Paris Street; Rainy Day, 1877, Gustave Caillebotte:

I referenced this painting in the previous post. If you are like me, you did not know it was called “American Gothic.” 1930, Grant Wood. Also, it appears to me that the farmer’s unmarried daughter has a bit of a lazy eye.

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Filed under art, chicago, color, pictures


I am almost completely packed. Just a few odds and ends need to be taken care of.

Earlier this evening, I got a phone call from my brother inquiring about his flight (he is flying here on Friday to help me move). Turns out, his flight was with ATA which went bankrupt a couple of days ago and cancelled all flights. I have never flown with ATA, so even though I heard something about it on the news the other day, it did not really ring a bell as being a problem for me.

Well, it was. His flight was cancelled. Fortunately, I was refunded my money on the ticket, but I then needed to buy a new ticket. After looking at several different options, we decided to stick with our day and relatively same time. It cost $200 more than then the original ATA ticket. This really frustrates me because I don’t have money. AND I was a responsible person who purchased a ticket far enough in advance to get a really good, cheap deal. On purpose. Part of the reason I am moving this next weekend was because that was how far out we needed to wait to get a good price on a plane ticket. And then, here I am 5 days before the date of the ticket, being forced to buy an expensive one. it really frustrates me. Although, I suppose all things considering, it is a good thing they will refund the first ticket amount in full.

What’s the phrase, when it rains, it pours. That has been the case for me as of late. With money, with medical insurance and with work. What can you do, just hang in there I suppose and hope. Hope that things will change, that things will improve.

In regards to last minute things in chicago, Willow Creek was really interesting. I am glad I had a chance to go. AND one of my friends and I went downtown on Saturday and I got to go to the Art Institute. Which was super cool! As previously mentioned, I did not think I was going to get a chance to go. (did you know American Gothic is a painting with a farmer and his unmarried daughter, not his wife!?!?) It was also a great day hanging out with one of my friends. We rode the train in to downtown. The weather was fantastic. We walked so much our feet were sore (I even got blisters).

Here are a couple of pictures from our adventure in Chicago.

The Bean:

The Lake:

The Lion:

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Filed under art, chicago, moving, pictures

Drum roll please…

I am moving to Texas.

After thinking, praying, pro/con lists, talking with others, seeking advice, and not having things work out here as I would have hoped, I am moving.

I am going to be living with my Brother, Sister-in-law and nieces for a time. Goal one: get a job Goal two: get insurance. It is going to be a bit of adventure.

I am moving mid April, so for moment, I spend my days packing as efficiently as possible, getting rid of stuff I don’t need and watching Alias while I do these tasks. (I only have 23 episodes left!)

I also am taking advantage of hanging out with friends, while I have the chance.

Lastly there are the multiple “I was going to…(fill in the blank)” while I lived in chicagoland and I haven’t yet! So Sunday, a couple of us are driving up to Willow Creek just to check it out.

I don’t know if I will ever make it to the Field Museum or the Art Institute,but if I don’t I am sure I will be back to visit someday.


Filed under chicago, moving


I wanted to go to the Oilers game today. They are in town playing the blackhawks. Due to lack of interest (from other people who I wondered if they wanted to go with) and lack of money, I didn’t go.

I am currently listening to the game (online-630 CHED). Its 3-3 going into the third. There have been a handful of penalties, and even 3-5 penalty killing for the oilers. Its turning out to be a great game. Too bad for me not being there.

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Filed under chicago, hockey, oilers, radio